Monday 28 November 2011

The McCollection - an anthology of Scottish short stories, 2011

The McCollection - an anthology of twenty short stories by contributors to the McStorytellers website. Edited by Brendan Gisby.

Tom Greenwood
Pat Black
David D. Sharp
Alan Crossan
Gavin Broom
Skagadol Husche
Angus Shoor Caan
Alan Gillespie
Alan Brough
Bill Kirton
Andrew McCallum Crawford
Jack O’Donnell
Alasdair McPherson
Stewart Wright
Gurmeet Mattu
Brendan Gisby
Kevin McCallum
Ron A. Sewell
M. W. Harris
James McPherson

You can get the book on Kindle at Amazon co uk and Amazon com. The print edition is also available from Amazon com. Reviews will follow.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Thursday 17 November 2011

Bar, Graphite on Paper, 2011

The place smells stale, it smells of things that have been bottled up too long and are beginning to seep out. He positions himself at the bar. The tumbler is thick, squat. Whisky covers ice bricks: his optico-acoustico-olfactory pleasure is satiated. The verb 'articulate'. Words. He's not scared of them. Words are for playing with, it's not a thesis, although he is an educated man. The verb 'orchestrate'. Whisky. First the words, now the images, time to watch them flow before he messes with them. Cut and paste, rearrange, but stay shy of delete. Never delete. Conditional 3, if he hadn't done that he would have done something else. They all would. Things would have been different. Things would be different. Things wouldn't have gone stale. Yes, they would. Same stale, different bottles. Same man sitting in a bar, alone. A different bar, but the same alone, which is the point. 

Sunday 13 November 2011

A Wee Poem: Lignite

You dig it up.
It’s been buried for years –
millions of them.
It used to be trees.
They must have been beautiful.

You burn it.
The smoke makes patterns.
Dark blue on sky blue.
People see things.
Beautiful things.
Some people
claim to see trees.

Others stare into the ashes
Trying to rekindle the memory
Of a moment’s warmth.

Friday 11 November 2011

The Next Stop Is Croy - A Wee Film

Here's a short film of my story, 'The Next Stop Is Croy', which was first published in Spilling Ink Review

Part 1

Part 2

Taken from my collection, 'The Next Stop Is Croy and other stories', which is available here and here.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The Next Stop Is Croy and other stories


`The Next Stop is Croy and Other Stories' is a skilfully written collection of short stories that takes the reader straight to the bittersweet spot of the human condition. Exploring familiar terrains of shame, frustration and loss, the writer differentiates these stories by revealing those elusive, critical moments in life that knit together to make a boy into a man. The writer manages to distil a lifetime into the spoken (and unspoken) language of fathers and sons. I've had the honour of publishing other works by Andrew McCallum Crawford and I hope that you seize the opportunity to read this moving collection of stories.     Amy Burns


This is a short collection of six, easy to read stories which recount various incidents in the life of a young Scot. We see their surfaces, their separateness, but we're also made aware of the echoes between and the depths beneath them.

In a foreword, the author prepares us for the collection by reminding us that they're stand-alone pieces which `in no way' constitute `a novella or a novelette'. Equally, though, he acknowledges that strong links and themes run through them and the resultant grouping conveys very strongly their potential as a `continuous narrative'. The tantalising effect of the sequence is to make us want to know more of what happened between the episodes and events he chooses. As it is, we can enjoy each passage as a self-contained story but, simultaneously, we create our own version of how the relationships shifted and developed in the `gaps'.
They're all told from the perspective of a single narrator, Alan, observing and experiencing the separation between his own lifestyle, choices and opportunities and those of his father. The language often seems to suggest confrontation and yet there's no mistaking the tenderness, nostalgia and love that informs it. There's an artlessness, a deceptive simplicity about many of the exchanges between Alan and his father when we hear the abruptness of the delivery, the seeming carelessness of the remarks and hidden accusations, and we know that both parties want to say other things, want to express the love that connects them. It's a love that never gets articulated and yet it suffuses nearly all their contacts.
The writing is clever. There are no great tragic outpourings; tragedy is a very personal experience, marked by memories of seemingly trivial things - finding lost golf balls, sharpening a saw, cutting through a counter, sensing yet never penetrating a secret shared by two girls. But, when recollected, they have the resonance of major life events, signifying much more than their surface suggests. The stories convey the fragmentation of life, its refusal to cohere into a constant flow, the power of memories and the helplessness we feel before them.
The feeling which remains is that Alan is somehow lost in his own life. It's failed to settle into the meanings he seeks for it, remaining instead as a collection of disconnected fragments, each consisting of elements which should draw them together. So in the end, we come to realise the artfulness of those claims in the foreword. Our lives consist of fragments - we can group and structure them to imply a significance but, in the end, the idea of a `continuous narrative' is a myth. We need to live in and understand the moment. Above all, we need to be prepared to see the value of the trivial and tell the emotional truths which are the real driving force of our being.     Bill Kirton


28 years ago Alastair Gray changed the landscape for short stories by a Scottish Author with "Unlikely Stories, Mostly". Those of us who love Contemporary Scottish Fiction have since found the ground rather barren.

Andrew's new collection is like finding a flower sprouting out of cracked concrete - it's unexpected and he's yet little known. But it is eminently readable, even when it hurts a bit.'

He'll kill me for writing this.     Steve Alker


Andrew McCallum Crawford reaches into his wordsmiths toolbox to investigate the relationship between boys and fathers. Although the stories have a Scottish background there can be no doubt the truths of the relationships will be felt worldwide. As before, the humour and veracity of Scottish life is laid bare... this is quite simply the work of a fine author on the rise. Buy it before he gets too famous.     Peter Murphy

The book is available on Amazon co uk and Amazon com.